anniversary, babies & chocolate pretzel caramel cream cupcakes*

Today is my 4 year anniversary of the day that I married my best friend, Landon Cundy. I don't know how I got so lucky! He truly is the most amazing man I have ever met, and I am so happy to call him my husband! Let me fill you in on a couple reasons why I love this man.

*He is such a hard worker. He takes so much pride in every little thing that he does. If something is going to have his name on it or if he is associated with it, it will be perfect. We both have the same amount of drive and ambition when it comes to everything we do, especially our jobs. I love that he takes everything he does to the next level and really strives to be the best at everything he does.

*I don't remember the last time I vacuumed because he vacuums nearly each and every week. I don't know if it is because he likes to vacuum, or because he is in love with our Dyson. Either way, I'm not complaining! He is also a very clean person. He is actually more of a clean freak than I am, and I love it!

*He LOVES yardwork. A couple of years back we bought his grandma's house that his mom grew up in. His grandma was known for having a perfect yard. Well, she demanded a perfect yard was more like it :). None the less, Landon has more than happily carried on that tradition. Our yard is my very favorite part of our house, and it is all thanks to my hubby.

*He is perfectly content to just chill. He doesn't have to be doing something at all times of the day. When I am not working and have had a very busy week, the only thing I want to do is sit down, snuggle with my husband and puppy, and watch a good movie. Landon is exactly the same. I could never be married to someone that has to be doing something at all times. I need my down time to function, and Landon is cool with that.

*Landon loves to hang out with just me and him. Some couples always have to be doing something with other people, otherwise they don't have much fun. Landon and I couldn't be more opposite of that kind of couple. He loves to hang out with just me and I LOVE to hang out with just him. We truly are best friends in every sense of the word. We don't need a bunch of other people around to be happy. However, we do need our puppy, Tankers. I don't know what we would do without him :).

*Last, but not least (because I need to wrap this thing up), he loves me. He doesn't pick fights with me over something stupid and always makes me feel like I am important. He puts up with my occasional "girl moments" and dramatics, and is a very good listener. He must truly love me, to put up with me for the last four years! I LOVE YOU LANDON!


Next item on the agenda: BABY! My little sister, Shea, gave birth to a beautiful baby boy on Tuesday, June 21st. Xander Joseph Swan was born at 8:24 p.m. - ish :), and he was 6 lbs. 14 oz. and 20 inches long. He is SO CUTE and little and has a ton of blonde hair! We still can't tell who he looks like more, mommy or daddy, but we did confirm that he definitely has Shea's ears! :)


How cute is he?? Aunt Alyssa loves you!!!

Now, let's get down to business. Just thinking of making these cupcakes and dreaming of what they would taste like literally made me drool! The blog I found them on actually made a chocolate peanut butter pretzel cupcake. I thought that a caramel cream in the middle sounded so amazing, so I decided to forgo the peanut butter cup middle. Although I am absolutely positive that having that peanut butter cup middle would be to die for as well!

I truly loved this cupcake. I was worried that after adding the brown sugar and butter to the pretzels that they wouldn't be all that salty anymore. They were still plenty salty! One of my staff actually didn't like them very much because she thought they were too salty. I thought they were perfect. I also sprinkled some kosher salt on top, too, so maybe that was what did her in. My only complaint is that I wish the pretzels would have remained a little more crunchy. They were softened just a little bit from the butter and brown sugar, and also from the cupcake batter on top. But they were SO yummy and really reminded me of a chocolate and caramel covered pretzel! Which was exactly what I was going for :).


Chocolate Pretzel Caramel Cream Cupcakes
adapted from Did Someone Say Party?

(makes 3 dozen cupcakes)

Ingredients:

Pretzel Crust 
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened 
2 tablespoons brown sugar 
1-2/3 cups crushed pretzels 

Cake Batter 
1 box devil’s food cake mix 
1 small box Jello instant chocolate fudge pudding mix 
8 oz sour cream 
1 c applesauce 
4 eggs 
1/2 c milk 
1 tsp vanilla extract 

Caramel Cream Filling
5 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar (not Powdered Sugar!)

1/2 cup caramel topping

Frosting 
(if you want your frosting piled high like mine were, double this recipe)
1 cup butter (no substitutes), softened 
4 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar 
1 1/4 cups baking cocoa 
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 
1/2 cup milk 

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Crush the pretzels.  I used a food processor, but putting the pretzels in a ziploc bag and crushing them that way works, too. You want to get them pretty fine so you can get an even layer.

In a medium bowl, mix together the crust ingredients. Drop a small scoop of the crust mixture into the bottom of each cup (either a sprayed muffin pan or silicone cups).  Use a small glass to pack them down to a firm crust. Bake for 8-10 minutes.  Set aside to cool.


While those are baking, combine all the batter ingredients.  Mix well until the batter is well combined. Drop a small spoonful of batter onto each pretzel crust.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20-22 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. While cupcakes are cooling, make the caramel cream filling!

To make the filling, in a small saucepan, whisk flour into milk and heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens. You want it to be very thick, thicker than cake mix, more like a brownie mix is. Remove from heat and let it cool to room temperature. It must be completely cool before you use it in the next step. Stir in vanilla.

While the mixture is cooling, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. You don’t want any sugar graininess left. Then add the completely cooled milk/flour/vanilla mixture as well as the caramel topping and beat it for about 10 minutes. That may seem like a long time, but believe me it makes it so light and fluffy and SO AMAZING. If it looks separated, you haven’t beaten it enough! Beat it until it all combines and resembles whipped cream.  If it seems really runny, then add a little bit of powdered sugar. I needed to add just a little, and then it was PERFECT!





Hull the cupcakes the make a perfect little nest for the caramel cream. 


I used a big star tip to fill the cupcake holes. Make sure they are filled all the way to the top, because you are not going to want to skimp on this stuff! 


Finally, make the frosting!  Cream 1 cup of softened butter with a mixer.  Gradually beat in confectioners' sugar, cocoa and vanilla. Add milk until frosting reaches spreading consistency.

Time to frost! I used a pastry bag with no tip and did a swirl. After frosting, sprinkle some sea salt on the top for a finishing touch!




And finally, DIG IN!




Salty yet sweet amazingness!


-alyssa*

2 comments:

Aimee said...
June 24, 2011 at 12:00 PM

happy anniversary! our 1 year is on sunday :)

alyssa* said...
July 1, 2011 at 2:25 PM

Happy anniversary last Sunday! Sorry, I just saw this post! It doesn't seem like it's been a year since Nate said he was getting married! CRAZY! You two are such a CUTE couple!

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